Enab Baladi – Homs
Every Tuesday, dozens of landline subscribers gather in front of the ruined post office building in the city of Rastan, north of Homs, in an attempt to obtain a telephone number and discuss a role on a public Internet portal through the post office, or a private portal by an agent.
Mahmoud (45 years old) leaves the building with an expression of anger on his face. He told Enab Baladi: “This is the tenth time I have come here, and I could not get a telephone number. On the other hand, the son of an officer could get six numbers at once.”
After 11 years, postal services return very slowly, inside the dilapidated building of the center in the city of Rastan, which was confronted by the regime forces with artillery shells for eight years during the opposition forces’ control of the area.
Although four years have passed since the “reconciliation” agreement, the landline telephone service covered only a few neighborhoods in the city, while the DSL gate service was still cut off from the area, despite the allocation of more than a thousand gates there.
Last March, the Syrian Ministry of Technology and Communications said on its official website that the number of telephone lines in the telephone centers of the Syrian Telecommunication Company in the Homs branch was 475,000, of which 280,000 were activated, and the total number of Internet portals allocated in the governor reaches about 153. One thousand and 775 ADSL ports, of which about 100 thousand and 700 are internet ports of the Tarasul provider, and about 470 thousand are of private providers.
60% of the portals are for the private sector
The Ministry of Communications allocated 1,024 internet gates to the Rastan Post Center through the DSL service, and then sold 60% of the internet gates to private companies, which increased the cost of acquiring an internet gate, while the influential get free gates through favoritism.
Mahmoud, who reserved his full name for security reasons, said internet portals were not yet distributed despite the post office’s readiness, and justified this by “opening the door to manipulation by allowing public portals to the influential . “
The post sold the gates to private companies, keeping only 40% free, according to Mahmoud, who spoke to the center several times to try to understand the problem. “This 40% was distributed to army officers, Ba’athists and people. with seat belts. ”
This situation prompted the rest of the population to the option of buying internet portals through representatives of private companies at exorbitant prices.
150 thousand pounds for the gate
The newspaper Al-Watan, loyal to the Syrian regime, said in November 2021 that the price of a private internet portal could reach 275,000 Syrian pounds in Homs governor.
The price of acquiring a private internet portal has risen to £ 150,000 by company representatives, and despite the limited number of portals, most residents did not buy it because they were not financially able to do so.
One of the representatives of the internet portals, who refused to be named for security reasons, told Enab Baladi that the share of private companies is 610 gates, out of 1024 gates, spread among five companies, each company has 122 gates, and the price of one gate has reached 150 thousand pounds, and in spite of the limited number, The total sold so far does not exceed 100 gates, for most of the population can not buy it.
The exchange rate of the US dollar against the Syrian pound reached 3,980 pounds, according to the “Lira Today” website, which specializes in exchange rates and foreign currencies.
The delegate added that the 415 free public gates had been allocated to government departments, security departments and influential people.
Technical infrastructure at its worst
At the end of 2009, the Syrian Ministry of Technology and Communications, which was only six years old, released the first documents of the e-government plan, which is scheduled to expire within 11 years, i.e. by the end of 2020.
It is now accepted that 100% of the main services are provided electronically at the interactive or transactional level, 50% of the rate of use of available electronic services (the ratio of the number of users of electronic channels to users of the traditional channel), and 70% of the total government services are available through channels other than the traditional channel 60% of government supplies are made electronically, but the only technical progress that has really been made is the “smart card”, which is very similar to ration cards, with the difference that it is automatic.
According to a study by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, before 2005, a Syrian citizen wishing to access the Internet had to submit an official request to one of the service providers operating in Syria. to a photo of his identity, and then wait for a response to his request.
Within this mechanism for submitting applications, the Telecommunication Corporation has placed the Internet subscription service under rationing for long periods in recent years, and the continuous subscription “ADSL” has so far still been subject to rationing by the Corporation.
After that, internet providers started to increase and they were no longer limited to the state provider.
In 2010, Syria ranked 124th in a list of 138 countries under the name of the Information Technology Index, issued by the World Economic Forum. In 2013, due to the political and military situation, Syria was excluded from the classification issued by the forum. annual.
The percentage of trust in internet portals in Syria reached 33% in 2016, while a large proportion of users relied on the only two mobile networks (Syriatel and MTN) to access the internet, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union which in a study by ESCWA.
According to the same study, the internet bandwidth did not exceed 93 thousand megabytes per second, compared to one million and 182 thousand in the United Arab Emirates, and the packet is a unit of data sent over the internet that measures the speed, response and pressure on the network.
In the same year, the Ministry of Communications announced that it had a plan that would make Syria “in front of the Arabian Gulf” with internet gates, but network errors and interruptions of the “submarine cable” later prevented it.
At the beginning of 2018, the problem of slow internet prevailed throughout the Syrian territories, which led to problems in opening web pages, in addition to problems in updating the pages of social networking sites and applications. This angered the People’s Assembly, which criticized the poor quality. from the internet.
In the city of Homs and its countryside, the state of internet service does not differ from the rest of the Syrian governorates, where the governor, especially his countryside, suffers from government neglect at various levels related to technical services, including the field of communications. .
The areas of the northern countryside of Homs were not provided with internet service, as the telecommunications companies “MTN” and “Syriatel” did not publish enough towers in the area to provide the desired service, which was reflected in the quality of the internet as well.
According to a survey of residents’ opinion in the northern Homs countryside, the telecommunications service is “at its worst, as it is weak mainly in the capitals, Rastan and Talbiseh, and is getting weaker the further away from the center.”
The number of cover towers does not exceed four towers in each city, which puts a constant pressure on the network, and negatively affects the performance of the internet service, and despite the complaints related to poor coverage submitted continuously by the residents , there has been no response from the two telecommunications companies so far.